It’s not often that a track-focused limited edition model visits the office, but we always look forward to learning more about it. That was precisely the case when the 2021 Lexus RC F Fuji Edition came to visit. But while the slick carbon fiber visuals, burbly V8, and elegant interior made an excellent first impression, it ended up falling just short of being the right mix of track performance and street capability.
An Artist Known By A New Name
If the introductory visual presentation looks familiar, it’s because the newly renamed Fuji Edition was once known as the RC F Track Edition, and other than the quick name swap. These core exterior appointments made their debut in the Track Edition get carried over here to the Fuji. The hood is made out of solid carbon fiber, while the material is also used to construct the massive rear wing, roof, front lip, and side skirts. The exhaust system is made out of solid titanium, while Fuji exclusive BBS sourced wheels are adorned in a sleek shade of black.
The exterior looks like it could easily be copied and pasted into a track day photograph, and our tester did a good job drawing plenty of stares and questions. However, when viewed against rivals, the spirited Fuji Edition comes up slightly short. The Porsche 911 has a cleaner look, and it has also benefited from a more extensive exterior redesign, even in its wildest forms. That said, we will give the Lexus a nod over the BMW M4, which lost some of its styling elegance when the twin-kidney grilles decided to bulk up in the name of safety and retro DNA.
Befitting its role as a track-focused special, the wild styling also houses an impressive degree of functionality, with the carbon fiber pieces helping to shed 121 lbs of flab from the RC, which allows the curb weight to drop down to 3,781 lbs. It’s still a chunky figure, especially when you consider that the BMW M4 CS is lighter at 3,620 lbs, and the newly axed Shelby GT350 is slightly lighter too at 3,760 lbs. However, we’ll take any form of improvement, no matter how small it might be.
Luxury Lined RC F Track Edition Interior Tasteful Blend Of Sport And Comfort
Slip inside the cabin of the RC F Fuji Edition, and you might be hard-pressed to find any significant differences between it and a lesser RC F. The interior retains much of the RC F’s core design. It doesn’t scream to observers that it’s something radically special. A prominent exception is the carbon-fiber weaving on the dashboard and the door panels, which are infused with a red hue.
While the cabin is starting to show its age in a few areas, it’s still one of the nicest interiors that Lexus uses. The red leather seats feature color-matching Alcantara inserts, and they still offer decent amounts of bolstering for more demanding drives through the countryside. The highest quality materials are used here, and it’s the finer details that make the Fuji Edition a truly special place to spend time in.
A prominent catch is that all of this elegance is paired with Lexus’s dreaded trackpad-operated infotainment system. Like an episode of Perry Mason, the system is highly frustrating to use, and any enjoyment that is derived is immediately sucked away by just how jittery the cursor is when asked to navigate to various menus. Thankfully the Fuji Edition does come with the typically optional 10.3-inch screen, which improves resolution. However, while it comes with Apple CarPlay, there’s still no Android Auto to be found though Lexus reps have assured in the past that they are working on adding that feature into future models.
Still Makes The Right Noises, But Where’s The Improvement?
A vital component of any track-focused car is that it has the muscle to back up its wild styling. The RC F Fuji Edition certainly packs the right stuff. Still, the main problem here is that there isn’t alot of noticeable improvements that make the Fuji Edition truly leap forward from a standard RC F. Performance still comes from a naturally aspirated 5.0 liter that retains its 472 hp rating and comes with no supercharger or turbocharger. That allows the Fuji Edition to blast to 60 mph in under four seconds. But despite all of the upgrades, the Fuji Edition only shaves 0.2 seconds off the 0 to 60 time. There is a welcome tweak to the engine mapping, with the big eight-cylinder now only needing to reach 2,800 RPM to reach its proverbial sweet spot versus the lofty 3,600 RPM that the older engine needed to do the same feat.
Lexus also made some changes to the steering and suspension, and here the changes are more noticeable. It’s still a hefty car to throw around corners, but the quicker rack is paired with a standard limited-slip differential, which helps reduce understeer when entering a tight bend. These changes and more help make the Fuji Edition a better daily driver. Still, with the base car already getting much of the core basics down, the minimal amount of improvements you get from the Track Edition’s suite of upgrades do make justifying a purchase a bit tricky. That’s especially true since rivals like the M4 offer more meat to go along with the helping of figurative mashed potatoes.
Typically we would use this section to judge its value for the dollar, but in this instance, the RC F Fuji Edition outright flunks in this category. A base Fuji Edition starts at $101,095, with our lightly optioned example ending up with a final sticker of $103,250. That’s a significant premium over the base $65,720 RC F and is an even tougher sell when you consider that not only is the Fuji Edition based on a platform that’s literally a cobbled-together Frankenstein made out of three different models (two of them no longer in production) but that it’s also no more potent than the standard model. The LC500 can be obtained for $5,000 less.
Lexus, for its part, claims that rarity is playing a significant role in the sticker price, with the luxury automaker claiming that only a small number of Fuji Editions will be entering our shores. But consider some of the newer performance models you can get with roughly the same amount of exclusivity, like the $74,200 Audi RS6 Coupe, the $103,100 BMW M4 CS, and even the $78,495 Mercedes-AMG C63 S coupe.
As it stands, the 2021 Lexus RC F Fuji Edition is a very interesting performance offering. While loyalists will undoubtedly gravitate towards its distinct flavor of performance and style, it’s also fighting an uphill battle against newer rivals that offer more performance for the dollar, and when you combine that with the presence of the cheaper LC500 coupe, the Fuji Edition’s attempts to woo some buyers might fall deaf on the ears of those that pass it by and sign on the dotted line for an LC500 or one of its rivals.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.